The hustle and bustle of Manhattan is legendary, but I don’t think it is so poignantly captured anywhere as it is on the Lower East Side. A mixture of struggling artists, immigrant culture, historical landmarks, a yearning for a sense of family and community, and an element of crime and danger has made the neighborhood what it is. However, an evolving gentrification has become more and more prevalent throughout the years, pricing out the people that gave the area its character, and many of them have had to move away. Mom and pop businesses are forced to close their doors as the big boys are moving in. Those still standing can do little other than to turn away from eyesores like the 7-11 that now stands on Ave. A. But there’s one woman that’s not going down without a fight.
Wendy Scripps was born in the Bay Area of California, but moved to Manhattan in 1982. Her mother, a Brooklyn native, told Wendy she was born to be a New Yorker. “Once I got to New York, I knew that was where I was supposed to be,” says Scripps. “It fit like a glove.” Scripps’ parents were both active in the art communities. Her mother was a dancer, well ahead of her time. She was a Martha Graham dancer and the first to teach the art of Bharatanatyam (an ancient Indian dance) in America. Scripps’ father was active in the theater community doing stage design, but also loved rock n’ roll music. He began taking Scripps to rock n’ roll shows at a young age.
If you’re wandering around the New York City’s East Village and suddenly find yourself on the outskirts of Alphabet City, there’s a cool little art gallery I know on Ave. A just off of 2nd St. It’s called Art on A. Go in. Check out the art on the walls. If you’re lucky enough to visit before September 22, what you see will be instantly relatable to anyone who can recognize the beauty of a subculture, its decadent allure, its decaying glamour. But those who know photographer Robert Butcher will know that his latest collection American Madonnas and Liars is based on a story that started long ago, born of a lifetime of rock and roll, drugs, and trouble which led up to a suicide attempt and finally resurrection. I was lucky enough to be able to talk to him about what brought him to his latest artistic venture.